July ended on a sour note as Tampa Bay dropped four of the last five games, putting them at 12-13 for the month. But it appears they have new life as they have started August 4-2.
The Rays have had their share of ups and downs this season. Injuries, streaks of terrible pitching, and coming up short at the plate when it mattered most. This explains why for the second time this season, the Rays had a sub .500 month.
So this week, the goal was simple: redemption. And so far in August, they are looking like that will be successful.
To end July and start August, Tampa Bay to a trip to steamy Texas for a four-game series against the American League leading Astros. Aside from Monday, the trip was well worth it for the Rays.
History was made Tuesday, as Tampa Bay’s journeyman Evan Longoria became just the second in franchise history to hit for the cycle. He worked for it too. To complete the cycle, Longoria had to have his double in the ninth reviewed. After a few moments holding his breathe, the call came in as safe and the cycle was upheld.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 2, 2017
Longoria made history a second time in the same game, as he crossed the plate for the 766th, moving him into the franchise lead for the category.
Steven Souza Jr. carried the team on his back to wrap up the series Thursday. His 2-for-4, three RBI game propelled the Rays to a 5-3 win that clinched the series for Tampa Bay.
Now’s a good time to revisit this shot. pic.twitter.com/PtR2uxglrc
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 4, 2017
Rookie Austin Pruitt, in only his third career start, bested Astros ace Dallas Keuchel and moved to 6-2 on the season. Pruitt managed to shut out the Astros thru 6.1 innings, and with some bullpen relief and a little Alex Colome magic, the Rays held on to win 3-0 against the 2015 Cy Young winner.
Colome collected save number 32, extending his own lead in the American League.
Tampa Bay gave up a season high number of runs on Monday as they lost 14-7. The loss gave them their second losing month this year, with the first being in April when they went 12-14.
Jesus Sucre was put on the mound for the third time his career on Monday. He allowed three runs, giving him a season ERA of 27.00. The previous two pitching appearances came when he was in Seattle, in 2015.
Alex Cobb had the second worst outing of his season on Monday, allowing eight runs over just 3.0 innings. It was the shortest outing of the season for Cobb, as he had made it through 5+ in every other start. The only game he allowed more runs was on June 3rd when he allowed nine runs in 5.0 innings.
The Rays won 3-of-4 in Houston. After dropping the same number to the A.L. East leading Yankees, taking three from the American League leading Astros was huge. And it meant the Rays started off August 3-0.
After eight straight on the road where Tampa Bay went 4-4, they returned home for a nine-game home stand. For a break from American League competition, the Rays welcomed the Brewers for a three-game interleague weekend matchup.
Souza Jr., who was held hitless in the first two games, went 2-for-4 Sunday. His second hit though, that was the big one…
Walk-off hit No. 1 for @SouzaJr…
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 6, 2017
Souza Jr. hit his 24th home run of the season to kick off the bottom of the ninth, giving the Rays the walk-off 2-1 victory. The hit broke a streak of over three years, as the last Rays walk-off homer came in May of 2014. It was also his first career walk-off hit.
Lucas Duda has gotten on-base in 10 straight games. He has made it on-base at least one time in every game that he has put on a Rays uniform.
Jose Alvarado, who was just brought up from Durham for the second time this season, made team history on Friday night. Alvarado pitched an “immaculate inning,” striking out three batters, with three pitches each. He joined Rafael Soriano (2010) and Brad Boxberger (2014) as the only three in franchise history to accomplish the feat. In the series, Alvarado threw two scoreless innings, striking out five and walking one, with no hits allowed.
Alvarado’s ninth inning last night? Immaculate. pic.twitter.com/fSGcEI7Q91
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 5, 2017
Milwaukee ended up shuting the Rays out for the first two games of the series, 2-0 and 3-0 respectively.
Starters Jacob Faria (5-2) and Cobb (9-8) suffered losses, but not for lack of pitching. Bouncing back from allowing eight runs in Houston, Cobb allowed just one run over 6.0 innings, with six strikeouts. Similar line for Faria, as he also allowed one run in 6.0 innings, but managed to strike out nine.
More solid work by the rookie. pic.twitter.com/kBxnJ95wM5
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 5, 2017
The Rays won only one game over the weekend, putting them at 58-55. The plus side is that the Yankees lost the first four games of the month, and are now 59-51, with Tampa Bay having played three more games. Tampa Bay sits 2.5 games back of New York for the American League wildcard.
The Rays get a much needed day off Monday, as their last break came on July 20th. Tuesday, the division leading Boston Red Sox come into the Trop for two, before the defending American League Champion Cleveland Indians come in Thursday for a four-game set.